“Vicitacíon did not recognise him when she opened the door and thought he had come with the idea of selling something unaware that nothing could be sold in a town that was sinking irrevocably into the quicksand of forgetfulness. He was a decrepit man. Although his voice was also broken by uncertainty and his hands seemed to doubt the existence of things, it was evident that he came from a world where men could still sleep and remember. José Arcadio Buendía found him sitting in the living room fanning himself with a patched black hat as he read with compassionate attention the signs pasted on the wall. He greeted him with a broad show of affection, afraid that he had known him at another time and he did not know him now. But the visitor was aware of his falseness. He felt himself forgotten, not with the irremediable forgetfulness of the heart, but with a different kind of forgetfulness, which was more cruel and irrevocable and which he knew very well because it was the forgetfulness of death.”
Could you describe the text above as anything other than poetry in prose? Welcome to the magical world of Gabriel García Márquez and Gregory Rabassa. If you have read ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE, you would know that the novel is actually four-hundred-and-twenty-two-pages of sublime poetry.
This book ranks among the three of the finest novels I have read, which include War and Peace and The Old Man and the Sea. I had begun my journey through the world of Márquez with this masterpiece. And although I had experienced the beauty of poesy in prose in the beautiful language called English, as I read One Hundred Years … I couldn’t believe that such poetry could be created in translation. I was therefore hardly surprised when I read somewhere that Márquez had said Rabassa’s translation of Cien Años de Soledad was better than the original.
Gregory Rabassa passed away in Connecticut two days ago at the age of 94. Let’s bow to the great man.
Bengaluru / Wednesday, 15 June 2016